Depression is an uninvited mate most of us would like to get rid of as soon as it appears. In fact psychologist discovered that the longer you stay depressed, the worse effect it has on your motivation, your level of happiness and your health. Thankfully there are proven ways, how to support your struggle against the depression and we are bringing you 7 proven tips that will help you to win that fight.
What is depression
Depression is a type of dysphoria, a state of feeling unwell or unhappy. It’s characterized by an abnormal sadness, gloominess, higher internal pressure, indecisiveness, loss of interest, drop of self-confidence and slowdown of body and mental processes. People facing depression feel like they’ve lost their energy, they’re always tired, they face problems with sleeping and they lose their appetite. On top of that depression negatively influences our social contacts (including relationships), our productivity and perception of our own value. It’s a dangerous state in which you are not able to employ your skills and capabilities you were used to before the depression had come. The reason, why depression appears needn’t to be always obvious, which means that not all depressed people are able to recognize they actually find themselves within this state.
10 to 25 % of women and 5 to 12 % of men suffer depression almost permanently.
How do you recognize that you’re actually facing depression
According to the normalized scale of psychological diagnostic classification DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) you are depressed if at least 5 out of 9 symptoms mentioned below applied to you during whole last 2 weeks. These symptoms as published on Depression Today are:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others)
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5 % of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
7 steps to change it
I personally faced depression many times. The younger I was the more complicated it used to be for me to fight it. In last few years though, I found a way how to face it with pride and how to actually get rid of it quite fast. I also read many books and articles about depression and it showed up that my tips had been already thoroughly described and scientifically approved in psychology before. That means that the following tips are not only based on my own experience, but that they’ve already been scientifically researched and confirmed to be working.
1. Eliminate Facebook and other social networks
Believe it or not, social networks might be really bad for your well-being and it gets even worse while you’re depressed. In 2012 researchers from famous Humboldt University in Berlin and Darmstadt Technical University conducted a research on how Facebook in particular influences our well-being. Results were frightening as they revealed a new psychological phenomena called ‘Facebook Envy.’ The study has shown that Facebook was bringing negative emotional outcomes to 36.9 % of respondents (on the other hand it’s fair to mention that to 43.8 % of respondents Facebook was brining positive emotional outcomes). From the depression point of view the most important thing is that 26.8 % people experience feelings supporting depression after they visit Facebook (9.2 % of people feel angry, 8.9 % frustrated, 3.5 % guilty, 2.6 % sad, 1.4 % lonely and 1.2 % envious). Therefore eliminating Facebook and other social networks in times you are depressed might be a good thing to do, scientifically speaking at least for one out of three people.
2. Eliminate listening to sad music, watching sad movies and reading sad books
There is one dangerous aspect of depression that you always need to have on your mind – rumination (focused attention on the symptoms of your distress). Some people can handle rumination quite well, but some people don’t and I’m unfortunately certainly one of them. In fact I must admit that I used to enjoy it. I listened to sad music, watched sad movies and was thinking over and over again about every single aspect of the reason for my depression. Eckhart Tolle, a German writer and public speaker focusing on inner transformation, describes this aspect of depression as something that is demanded by your ‘emotional ego,’ which is in fact the ‘evil you’ that wants to gain control over your life through supporting emotional feelings. In 1990 Jannay Morrow and Susan Nolen-Hoeksema from Stanford University conducted a research on depression focusing on rumination in particular. To be able to perform it they needed to induce sadness in observed people. Now let me quote their study word by word: ‘Two sadness induction techniques, proved reliable in previous experiments, were combined to induce sadness. Subjects read a depressing story (adapted from Keltner & Ellsworth, 1987) while sad music played in the background (Clark, 1983; Sutherland, Newman, & Rachman, 1982).’ And that’s it. Scientifically speaking – you don’t get rid of your rumination and therefore depression if you’d keep supporting it by listening to sad music, watching sad movies nor reading sad stories as far as it actually is a proven method how to induce it.
3. Read inspirational stories about ‘people who made it’
On the other hand, there certainly are stories or movies that might really help you against depression. There are many people in history, who had enormously tough life, never gave up and made it. One of these examples could be Tokuji Hayakawa, the founder of Sharp Corporation, or Christopher Gardner, whose life has been depicted in movie The Pursuit of Happyness. This method of elimination of depression is called Bibliotherapy and is actually recognized and approved for clinical use in therapy since 1916. It has been in the limelight mainly in 1980’s and 1990’s, but its origins in psychotherapeutic use are dated back to the middle ages.
4. Do sports and exercise
Doing sports, in a moderate way of course, is one of the healthiest things you might do for yourself. Even though many people think of sports mainly as a way of improving the state of their bodies, it has significant positive effects on the mind as well. In fact, NHS (National Health Service) – a UK government publicly funded healthcare system – officially prescribes exercising and other sports for patients with depression. According to NHS your physical activity should take you in average 150 minutes per week to keep you in good shape and mood and even a 15-minute walk can help you in your fight against depression or work just as a prevention. I personally use 60 minutes walks two or three times a week combined with exercise like BODYBALANCE and with sauna. By the way according to 2005 psychological research performed in Japan by Akihiko Masuda and his team sauna itself, when taken regularly, can be used to eliminate appetite loss and mild depression.
5. When it’s sunny go outside
When you’re depressed you tend to avoid social contacts . That’s a fact. However, staying at home is not a good idea. The study, by Gavin Lambert of the Baker Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues, showed that the level of serotonin, natural antidepressant supporting your cognitive functions, including memory and learning as well, is directly related to the duration of bright sunlight you are exposed to. That means that the more you stay outside during the sunny day, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll be able to memorize and learn new things. So when depressed during a sunny day, it’s a great idea to go for a short walk to combine it with previously mentioned physical activity providing your body with some other important hormones as endorphins – the ‘hormones of happiness’.
6. Prepare a set of achievable goals and succeed
According to Jennifer Cheavens from the Ohio State University hope can play a very important role in dealing with depression . People with high hope levels are better prepared to persist short periods of depression and to recover from them not to speak of the fact that the likelihood of depression occurrence by these people is significantly lower . It has been also proven that the deeper depression the person experiences, the lower level of hope he has . Therefore psychologist came to the conclusion that it is recommended to set series of achievable intrinsic goals (goals set by the person himself) and step by step achieve them to boost the person’s hope and therefore overcome the depression. As far as the motivation itself grows in spirals rather than linearly , it is recommended to begin step by step. The goals set by the person with depression should be achievable with probability higher than 50 %, but should be still a challenge for him. I personally recommend goals which might be achieved with probability from 60 to 80 %.
And what these goals should look like? In the beginning it’s good to start with small ones such as – every single morning I’ll start with a 5 minute exercise and I’ll keep doing it for at least one week. It’s a goal that might be fulfilled within 7 days, it’s specific, measurable, realistic and timed (so it follows the SMART methodology for setting objectives). When you achieve this easy one, you might set another (like within next week I will walk at least 30 kilometers/19 miles) and then another one, etc. Once a certain level of hope is achieved by this consecutive successes not only that the depression will start to disappear, but you’ll feel more successful, more self-confident and last but not least more hopeful. 
7. Focus on your breath
The last way how to get rid of depression is the one I learned most recently in Austria and that proved to me to be the most effective one. The breath is much more powerful tool for preventing you from depression than you might have thought. In Far East it has been known for centuries and revealed to the rest of the world in 1861 as Kriya Yoga, a way of meditation working with your breath and bringing you to greater awareness, inner peace and non-judgmental view on people and things around you. Full focus on your breath distracts you from thinking about your future or past and brings you to the ‘present moment.’ In clinical psychology and psychiatry this technique is called Mindfullness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is being clinically used since 1970’s. Since then many slightly changed techniques working with breath were derived and all of them are being successfully used in western psychology with no connection to the eastern spirituality.
Yes, you can
Yes, you can make it. No matter, how deep your depression is, no matter how your personal world has been doomed, you can still make it, if you really want and try to. The ways of overcoming depression described above really work. I can say it because I tried them and because every single one of them was scientifically researched, confirmed and actually in use for many years, or even centuries. If some of these techniques does not work for you, maybe the other one will. You can even try all seven in the same time. That is actually exactly the reason, why I described all of them in a single article. Even I sometimes must use more than one to succeed when the depression starts to appear.
Apart from directly linked resources, the following books were used an informational source:
 KŘIVOHLAVÝ, Jaro. Pozitivní psychologie. Vyd. 2. Praha: Portál, 2010, 195 s. Psychologie (Portál). ISBN 978-807-3677-268.